The suggested rules for 500-c.c. class contests laid down by the B.A.C. Motor Sports Clubs are by now well known and seem generally acceptable. We rather liked the idea of not permitting more than two cylinders, but whether or not real economy would have resulted from insisting on pump fuel is debatable, John Bolster, of course, believing that reliability can only be courted by using alcohol, and rightly saying that engine “blow-ups” will absorb more cash than costly fuel. With this question goes the capacity of the fuel tanks, although enforcing two gallons maximum capacity might well even things up in circuit racing, by bringing the more highly-tuned alcohol-motored cars into the pits quite frequently probably once every 30 miles or so. Even before the discussion on March 25th, the very go-ahead Bristolians had done much for 500-c.c. cars. Enquiries came in from as far afield as Singapore, Scotland, Leamington and Cardiff, and Bolster, Neve, Carson, Joe Fry, Poore and H. C. Lones arc reported to have 500-c.c. “specials” on the stocks. So the support of the Vintage S.C.C., B.O.C. and Midland A.C. is well merited. Dick Caesar has done a very great deal for the “new fast motoring” movement, including a visit to London to confer with S. C. H. Davis. He also enthuses over racing of cars powered with standard Ford Ten or similar engines, but realises that 500-c.c. “specials” are of more universal appeal.
On March 25th last another meeting was held and the proposals brought to a head. It was suggested that any type of half-litre engine be permitted, but that superchargers be barred, that four-wheel brakes with an independent hand-lever be insisted upon and that no restrictions be made in respect of fuel or bodywork, etc., providing the minimum weight is 500 lb. All this seems perfectly acceptable, taken in conjunction with the R.A.C. scrutineering proviso, but it must be remembered that these are suggestions only. Already the May Prescott meeting includes a class for supercharged 500’s, unless the regulations have been amended. Now how much more usefully directed all this praiseworthy and enterprising Bristol thinking would have been had the R.A.C. laid down these rules as applying to all national 500-c.c. contests, record-breaking excepted. Or even if Leslie Wilson, Eric Giles, Harry Bowler and other sprint organisers had agreed to a common formula to govern their 500-c.c. class events. However, near standardisation will undoubtedly follow and 500-c.c. racing is “on.” Eighty souls are now earnestly interested.
It seems as if the enthusiast who cannot work on his own car is going to be very well catered for by the Trade in this post-strife world. First and Service foremost, Raymond Mays, in conjunction with no less a personality than Tony Crook, has formed Raymond Mays and Partners, Ltd. The directors are Mays, Berthon, Wing-Cmdr. Lester, W. K. Richardson and, of course, F/Lt. T. A. D. Crook himself. Mays’s Malting Buildings have been converted into a tuning establishment well able to deal with all manner of interesting and potent motor-cars. Richardson, who tuned Mays’s racing cars before the war, is in charge, and has working with him several ex-E.R.A. mechanics. In addition. there is an entirely separate motor-cycle tuning establishment. This new concern, besides offering the best of facilities to Midlanders in search of speed, is also agent for Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Armstrong-Siddeley, Triumph, Citroen, Standard, Rover, and Wolseley cars, and Triumph and Velocette motor-cycles, and also distributors for H.R.D. motor-cycles in Lincolnshire and Rutland. Mays has his E.R.A. in readiness and Crook hopes to compete in sprint events with his “2.9” Alfa-Romeo and “328” B.M.W. so the firm will be actively represented.
Then, at Watford, Ian Connell is back in harness with Peter Monkhouse at Monaco, Ltd., and a big programme is in hand. L. G. Johnson has acquired Connell’s famous Darracq and this car is being overhauled. Other overhauls or rebuilds in progress concern such cars as Best’s ex-Monkhouse Type 55 Bugatti. Weir’s special monoposto K.3 M.G. Magnette, Graham’s ex-MacArthur K.3 M.G. Magnette, the ex-Powis-Lybbe 2.3-litre Monza Alfa-Romeo, the famous 4-litre Sunbeams “Tiger” and “Tigress,” Duke-Wooley’s K.3 M.G. and the Monaco-modified T.T. M.G. TB Midget. Not content with servicing these cars. Monaco Ltd. are doing up Heal’s “30/98” Vauxhall, the ex-Dr. Roth racing Talbot. Peter’s own Type 51 Bugatti and monoposto P. M.G., and divers Alfa-Romeo and M.G. cars. There is also the Monaco light aero engine, which was nearly ready for test in March, and a scheme is also in existence for making up spares for racing cars and the more obscure sports cars when such are otherwise unobtainable. Busy folk these Monacoites! If you are nearer Maidenhead, John Grosscurth and a friend can undertake a limited number of overhauls or rebuilds of rapid machinery, vintage or modern, two, three or four-wheeled, In particular these two intend to specialise in Frazer-Nash. Sunbeain (John, of course owns a Blackburn Six ‘Nash and the 1922 G.P. Sunbeam). Morgan and Vincent-H.R.D. We gather that spraying and panel-beating facilities are available. And so. “over to Caterham,” where Marcus Chambers has joined L.M.B., and where “specials” of varying degrees of urgency can be built-up to clients’ specifications and the induction and suspension arrangements or your pet motor-car suitably improved. Add to the foregoing the already established faclities offered by Cowell, Whittet & Co. and by Charles Mortimer. Thompson and Taylor, and others, and fast motors should seldom go sick these days.
A 1 1/2-litre Grand Prix is expected to happen at Le Circuit de Zeist, Holland, on August 24th. The circuit measures 5 1/2 km. a lap. Alfa-Romeo are said to be entering a team composed of Nuvolari, Varzi and Pintacuda, and Erik Verkade, who once drove with Louis Fontes, intends to drive his 1940 16-valve 4-cylinder Maserati, which has torsional i.f.s. This car was hidden in Italy throughout the war. Intending British participants are invited to contact the Clerk of the Course, Circuit de Zeist, c.o. Nederlands R.A.C.
The A.I.A.C.R. has met again and provisionally settled on a formula for the classic races of 1947-1951 with which few people will wish to quibble. No impositions will exist, beyond a capacity limit of 1 1/2-litres for supercharged engines and 3 litres for unsupercharged engines. Special fuel is to be permitted. That is the picture at present and it looks very satisfactory. But confirmation is to follow, at another A.I.A.C.R. meeting next month. A change seems unlikely. however.
It is with sorrow that we have to record the demise of Walter Watkins and W. E. Humphries. Watkins, who was killed on a motor-cycle, was, of course, highly successful in pre-war sprints with his home-designed and built Watkins-Nash. His personal transport was a “12/60” Alvis. Humphries raced a very spick-and-span Amilcar Six and an M.G. much-modified by himself, at Brooklands before the war. He ran a motor business in Hampstead Road and was known to, and the friend of, almost everyone who was anyone in our world. At the time of his illness he was rebuilding one of the Le Mans Lagondas.
Then L. Hill, A.M.I.A.E., M.I.M.T., passed away with pleurisy. He was works manager of Alfa-Romeo British Sales some years ago, and went from there to Laystalls and later to the Automobile Engineering Training College. He was responsible for the design of the modern Allard and author of several text books.
A very sane treatise on the future outlook of racing, written by S. C. H. Davis, appeared in the Autocar of March 29th, under the heading, “Racing — The Broad Outlook.” Davis does not overlook the need for a handicap in future sports car races, especially those of short duration. We would like to suggest that the R.A.C. “vets” the handicapping, and that it is consistent, year by year. In the past, when different speeds were set for different size cars, a sweeping victory by one make of car often affected the handicap speed of all cars in the victor’s capacity class, in the next year’s race. Such an attempt to preven one manufacturer from monopolising the prize money was detrimental to progress and defeated its aim of safeguarding the entry list. For divers reasons a straight-line handicap graph is not practical, and obviously speeds in every class should improve over the years. It is deliberate kinking of the graph-line we want to avoid.
Editorial, May 2001
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